Tesla Motors Files Suit Against Competitor Over Design Ideas

Discussion in 'BEV or Battery Electric Vehicle' started by atlaw4u, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. atlaw4u

    atlaw4u Well-Known Member

    The The lawsuit contends that Fisker Coachbuild fraudulently entered into a design contract with Tesla for the purpose of gaining access to confidential design information.

    [xfloat=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/Tesla_Roadster2.jpg[/xfloat]JOHN MARKOFF - New York Times - April 15, 2008

    Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley maker of electric sports cars, filed suit in San Mateo Superior Court on Monday against a competing company and two of its employees, saying they stole some of Tesla’s design ideas and trade secrets.

    Tesla, which has generated much interest among fans of cars and technology, recently started shipping a two-seat electric sports car in limited quantities. Last year it hired Henrik Fisker, a Danish-born designer who is known for his work on high-end exotic sports cars, to do the body design for a four-seat sedan, code-named White Star.

    The Tesla lawsuit contends that Mr. Fisker and his chief operating officer, Bernhard Koehler, doing business under the name Fisker Coachbuild, fraudulently agreed to take on Tesla’s $875,000 design contract to gain access to confidential design information and trade secrets, then announced a competing vehicle. Last fall Mr. Fisker founded Fisker Automotive, which is backed by the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

    The quarrel sheds a light on the insular world of the Valley’s investors in environmentally friendly technologies. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, whose Google search engine was originally backed by Kleiner Perkins, were both early Tesla investors.

    Both the planned Tesla sedan and Mr. Fisker’s recently announced Karma are meant to be hybrid cars using a small gas engine to power a generator that charges a battery, which in turn powers an electric motor. The design, known as a serial hybrid, is thought to greatly extend the range and efficiency of hybrid vehicles.

    The Tesla lawsuit states that before doing the design work for Tesla, Mr. Fisker had no experience with hybrid technology. It says that he did substandard work for Tesla, essentially sabotaging it, and then used the revenue from the design contract to develop his company’s car.

    “I think it’s ironic that Fisker chose to name his car the Karma, when what he’s done is very bad karma,” said Adam C. Belsky, a lawyer at Gross, Belsky & Alonso who represents Tesla.
    Calls to Fisker Automotive were not returned. A person answering the phone at Finck & Dadras, the San Francisco law firm representing Fisker Coachbuild, said it was the firm’s policy not to comment on litigation.

    Tesla executives said they decided not to use Mr. Fisker’s design and were starting over on the design for White Star when they discovered that Mr. Fisker was going into competition with them. The design switch caused a three- to six-month delay in production of the car, which is now scheduled to go on sale in 2010, the company said. Tesla is building a factory in New Mexico to manufacture the sedan...[rm]http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/technology/15tesla.html?_r=1&oref=slogin[/rm]
  2. deezle

    deezle Well-Known Member

    Here's a profile view of the Fisker "sedan", which this blurb indicates will be a plug-in: link.
    It's good to see a competitive EV/hybrid race heating up. Unfortunately, this particular match is a little too hot if the lawsuits delay a product launch.
  3. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I just hope this doesn't become another case of a lawsuit-only no-product company.

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